Why is emotional regulation so important in psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is not just about meeting with the psychologist and explaining out loud the frustrations we have been facing over the past few days or weeks; nor does he attend information sessions where, as patients, we internalize theoretical knowledge about what is happening to us and get rid of false beliefs.

If these two phenomena are more or less present in any process of psychotherapy, it goes far beyond this type of activity. It is not simply based on the expression and memorization of ideas, but is as much or more related to the comings and goings of emotions as it is to the transmission of knowledge which can be embodied in sentences and words.

In other words, emotional management, which happens in the dynamism of our mind, is a key aspect of psychological therapy, and it cannot be encompassed by language or what we can keep in writing. Progressing with visits to the psychologist means master the practice of this kind of living and changing processes based on the modulation and transformation of emotions in the here and now.

    Why is emotional regulation essential in psychological therapy?

    Do people addicted to tobacco know that smoking is bad? Currently, the answer to the vast majority of cases is yes: every year, large sums are invested to make everyone aware of the existence of the harmful effects of this product, at least in Western countries. However, this does not mean that thousands of people who are well aware that smoking is harmful to their health are trying to quit smoking and do not feel able to.

    This fact illustrates well what happens in a psychotherapy process: it’s not so much about learning theory, but mastering the practice of gaining control and autonomy in the way we live life, think and interact with others.. Just as reading a self-help book is unlikely to be enough to overcome psychopathology, we must expose ourselves to a context in which we can form new and more adaptive lifestyles.

    And the psychotherapy sessions are that context: a place where mental health and psychological well-being professionals support us, study our particular case and offer us tailor-made solutions. Solutions that allow us to deepen our knowledge of what is happening to us, but also to be able to perform exercises that allow us to learn to better manage our emotions and our feelings, among others. It is not all about speaking, reading or listening to advice; most of the change comes through personal transformations based on practice, a practice supported by the advice and direction of the psychotherapist, as well as by the material and psychological tools that he offers us.

    The main areas of emotion management in a therapeutic process

    These are the most important aspects in which patients have improved their management of emotions during the deployment of the phases of psychotherapy.

    1. The relationship with our own perception of the problem

    The process of self-knowledge regarding the problem that led us to seek professional help is essential, And in fact, part of what makes us suffer often resides here. Psychologists offer a whole series of exercises which allow us to move forward on this front; for example, we often give a series of instructions and guidelines to be applied in daily life to write down certain types of thoughts that come to our mind, so that we can learn patterns of the appearance of ideas, of feelings, etc.

    It helps to challenge some misconceptions about ourselves, to stop dry unpleasant or dysfunctional feelings that often lead us to adopt inappropriate behaviors, etc. In this way, we stop feeding the emotional processes that kept “alive” the set of actions and thought patterns that put us in problematic situations and do us no good.

    2. The relationship with the psychotherapist

    The type of emotional bond we make with the person wearing our case is very important; in fact, it greatly influences the outcome we are going to get, because if this interaction is problematic, there is a good chance that we are not as open and honest as the situation requires, and we are not fully engaged in therapy.

    Fortunately, this is an area that psychologists pay a lot of attention to and where we are used to stepping in for mutual benefit, so you will have a lot of help “connecting” in the right way, not even one. treatment too cold. and far not even from the expectation of making a friendship.

      3. The relationship with the therapeutic process

      Knowing how to take advantage of the emotions linked to therapy in our favor is something that is noticeable, among other things, in our ability to motivate ourselves and propose to achieve the next goal. And of course, this decreases the risk that we will stop attending sessions prematurely.

      4. The relationship with one’s own thoughts and feelings

      As we master the regulation of emotions, we are increasingly able to modulate the way we “move in our mind” our attentional focus. This causes us to focus on the areas where we can do something to improve ourselves and which allow us to be constructive, rather than just being steeped in pessimism.

      5. The relationship with our daily environment

      This space includes both what we think and feel when we interact with the environments we are usually exposed to (our office, the stores we pass through, etc.) and with the people we usually interact with or might have relationships with. (our partner, our parents, our bosses, etc.).

      6. The relationship with our self-esteem

      finally all of the above processes, which partially overlap, lead to a balanced self-esteem, Adjusted to our real abilities and is also able to bring us to new challenges, because we are aware that while we can always learn new things, we are imperfect and there is room to continue to progress.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Casella, SM (2015). Therapeutic relationship: the forgotten intervention. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 41 (3): pages 252 to 154
      • Spencer-Oatey, H. (2005). (Im) Courtesy, face and perceptions of the relationship: unpack its basics and interrelationships. Educational research. 1 (1): 95 to 119.
      • Wierzbicki, M .; Pekarik, G. (1993). A meta-analysis of discontinuation from psychotherapy. Professional psychology: research and practice. 24 (2): pages 190 to 195.

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